Abstract

G. VOGEL’S NEWS STORY “FOR MORE PROTEIN, FILET OF CRICKET” (12 FEBRUARY, SPECIAL section on Food Security, p. 811) draws attention to the potential role of insects in food security. Although insects such as mopane worms and termites are widely consumed by some societies, especially in Africa (1–7), globalization and creation of a food culture based largely on Western values has led to their marginalization (1, 5, 6). Unlike steak, such insects are easily accepted only where indigenous knowledge and willingness to consume them exists (1–5, 7). In addition to overcoming the cultural aversion to eating insects, it will be necessary to address ways to make them available throughout the year. Insects are seasonal, and there are technical difficulties in mass-rearing, processing, and storing them (8, 9). Our experience (8, 9) in Africa points to the need for greater public-private partnership in research and development. Governments could provide incentives to investors that come up with green business ideas on mass-production of edible insects. Currently, insects such as the mopane worm are treated as open-access resources, and their increasing commercialization is raising fears of extinction (10). Unsustainable wild harvesting could be reduced and conservation goals achieved with arrangements that encourage on-farm production of such insects. GUDETA W. SILESHI* AND MARC KENIS Southern Africa Programme, World Agroforestry Centre ICRAF, Lilongwe, Malawi. CABI Europe, Delémont, Switzerland.

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